On Faith and Similes

I’ve been thinking a lot about faith just lately. I have a (mostly) daily meditation practice; attend a weekly dharma and meditation class; and more and more try to live my life in a mindful way. There is still a little part of me that holds back from calling myself a Buddhist though. Not doubt in the teachings of the Buddha per se, but difficulty with seeing how the religious aspects of faith fit in with the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha said:

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

Of the Buddha’s teachings that I know, that I can experience for myself, that I understand – there is nothing so far that doesn’t agree with reason or that isn’t conducive to the good and benefit of one and all. And so, I guess, in a way, I can say I have faith in the Buddha’s teaching.


I created this art journal page after my dharma teacher read us a passage from “Advice from the Lotus-Born“. In the passage, the Bodhisattva Padmasambhava gives advice to his follower Tsogyal. The passage is quite beautiful, and full of wonderfully evocative similes (who doesn’t love a good simile?). I have included a few on my journal page. After reeling off scores of these “faith is like…” similes, Padmasambhava finishes by saying “Once faith has dawned from deep within you, all virtuous qualities arrive in a mountainous heap!” which makes me smile every time I read it 🙂

This art journal page uses crayon wax resist with watercolour paints and stamping with acrylic paint.  The words are written on watercolour-painted pages and collaged in place.

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12 thoughts on “On Faith and Similes

  1. pasangdolma says:

    hi, felt good to read your article on faith. Being a Buddhist, I also share the same sentiments and belief as you and I am glad about the way you pen down with words, colours and pictures! Kudos!

  2. Really enjoyed your colourful representation of your article!

    Especially relevant for me as I attended a talk on the Padmasambhava last week.

    Thanks again!

    With metta

  3. Years ago I read Buddhism for Dummies and I particularly remember a section in it about how there is not a need or requirement to label yourself a buddhist in order to practice or gain from it.

    • vivjm says:

      Hannah – that is a really good point. I do feel I am benefitting from the teachings, whether I call myself a Buddhist or not.

  4. […] On Faith and Similes (livegrownourishcreate.wordpress.com) […]

  5. I find the Buddha’s words that you have quoted above actually very reassuring, Because they indicate that we are all equal beings, who have infinite ability to perceive illusion or truth. We are just like Buddha. In other words, we don’t require intermediaries who tell us that we must have Faith in something beyond ourselves that is not ourselves. Buddha teaches, as I understand it, that we must discover the truth of all Being for ourselves. And, once truth is perceived, the illusion disappears. What I personally experience as moments of Faith are those moments in which i have slipped into illusion, but know, by faith, by my own experience, that the perception of truth is possible, even if it is not before my eyes at this moment.

    Thank you for such a provocative, thoughtful, and loving post. I just adore your journal art!!

    • vivjm says:

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment – “that we must discover the truth of all Being for ourselves” is such a wonderful way of putting it, and really describes the essence of what I believe.
      I am glad you like my journal art – I find it helps me to get things straight in my own head, but I do feel a little bit exposed at times by sharing it. But then I figure that opening up and feeling exposed is also part of the path!

      • Indeed, you are truly giving of yourself to others who will benefit from your daily practice of loving, creative reflection. It is really a way of blessing others 🙂 Thank you for sharing such inspiration and beauty 🙂

  6. Hi. Thanks for sharing this post. It is very inspiring. ~ Namaste. TW

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